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THE    DANGERS    OF    HISTORY

merely to transfer a body of knowledge from his head
into the heads of his pupils. The best kind of history-
te^cher is the one who realises the danger of the subject
itself and construes it as his function to redeem and
rescue it as far as possible.                                     *

If our Western civilisation were to collapse even more
completely than it has done, and I were asked to say
upon which of the sins of the world the judgment of
God had come in so signal a manner, I should specify,
as the most general of existing evils and the most
terrifying in its results, human presumption and par-
ticularly intellectual arrogance. There is good reason
for believing that none of the fields of specialised know-
ledge is exempt from this fault; and I know of no.
miracle in the structure of the universe that should make
me think even archbishops free of it. But it is the
besetting disease of historians, ~ and the effect pf an
historical education seems very often actually to en-
courage the evil. The mind sweeps like the mind of
God over centuries and continents, chu±ches and cities,
Shakespeares and Aristotles, curdy putting everything
in its place. Any schoolboy thinks that he can show
that Napoleon was foolish as a statesman, and I have
seen Bismarck condemned as a mere simpleton in
diplomacy by undergraduates who would not have had
sufficient diplomacy to wheedle sixpence out of a college
porter. I do not know if there is any other field of
knowledge which suffers so badly as history from the
sheer blind repetitions that occur year after year, and
from book to book—theses and statements repeated
sometimes out of their proper context, and even

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